PAGÈS PORTABELLA, CARLOTA

Center for Brain and Cognition
Laguaje and Comparative Cognition

+34 93 542 1349
C. Ramon Trias Fargas, 25-27, 08005


I am Carlota Pagès, a first year PhD student born and raised in Montcada i Reixac (Barcelona). In my academic life there has always been a dychotomy in my interests between arts and science, and I did not want to miss any of them. That's why I studied both a Bachelor Degree in Environmental Biology (UAB, 2010-2015) and a Professional Degree in Modern Music (Conservatori del Liceu) at the same time. But only after them I realized that the most logical way to put these two seemingly separated fields together was to study their interface in the real life: our brain.

In fact, I have been interested in the field since High School, and even my Biology's final project was about neuroscience: we studied the neurological production and regulation of the bird's song  and how it is analogue to language processing in the human brain.

So, in my inconscious aim to conciliate science and music, I ended up studying a Master in Brain and Cognition in UPF (2016-2017), which was the missing link. In the Master's context we studied the explicit differences in the brain signatures of music perception between musicians and non musicians, to see how musical training can modulate our brain functioning.

After spending some months as a research assistant in the Language and Comparative Cognition group, I joined them as a PhD, to keep working on the field. We work specifically in the harmonic and melodic aspects of music, tackling consonance/dissonance and violation of harmonic expectations. In the PhD I aim to understand, for example, if the brain respond differently when listening to music or when playing it and if the musical training influence the language processing, among other questions. I am also fascinated by the idea that the brain can be used as a musical tool, by using its oscillatory activity as an input, and its applications in the artistic creation or musical therapy.

When I am not engaged in research, I keep thinking on music: I lead my own indie rock band as a songwriter and guitar player, we are called Electric Cinnamon. But I also enjoy playing videogames, spending time with my friends, swimming, practising yoga and taking long walks in the nature. Finally, I would like to finish with a quote by Oliver Sacks, something that I want to keep always in mind: “There is an enormous growing body of work on the neural underpinnings of musical perception […] exciting beyond measure, but there is always a certain danger that the simple art of observation may be lost and the richness of the human context ignored”.